Pub Rants

Brightening An Agent Friend’s Day

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STATUS: I had a routine Doctor’s appointment late this afternoon. The first thing the nurse asked me to do was step on the scale. Right. Exactly what I want to be doing the Monday after Thanksgiving.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? 21 GUNS by Greenday

I had an agent friend call me today because she was just feeling a tad blue. A client she had loved working with had unexpectedly decided to leave her agency last year. In the past couple of weeks, this agent friend had spotted the sale for the project they had been working on together before the author left.

That’s just hard.

But I had just the thing to cheer her up. I said, “You can’t help when a client chooses to leave. It happens. But at least you didn’t pass on a novel that has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for more than 16 weeks.”

Yep. Yours Truly.

That and a pot of tea cheered her up immensely!


25 Responses

  1. Ellen B said:

    Reading Pub Rants always brightens my day, usually because of the positivity and pleasantness of the posts.

    It’s good to know that you give good Schadenfreude too, Kristin!

  2. Anonymous said:

    What? Kristin has made a boo boo? 🙁

    Um, which book on the NTY bestseller list?

    I think I’m turning into scrooge, though, because having been dumped (in a bad, bad way) by an agent before, I know there are two sides to every story. One can get caught up in losing a “sale” rather than the larger sorrow, which was losing the author’s faith.

  3. Madison said:

    It happens 🙂

    I think that’s what can be so frustrating about this industry. All the time, we hear, “this industry is subjective.” Sometimes, when I see this on a rejection letter I take it as encouragement. But other times, when I’m really frustrated (or I really wanted that agent) I pray I don’t hear the word “subjective.”

    As writers, we send query letters to all our favorite agents, hoping beyond hope the agent likes our work. Agents, (and I’m just guessing here), have to sort through zillions of query letters to find the next best seller. But does anyone ever really know? It all comes back to that darned subjectivity thing again…

  4. Marion Gropen said:

    Fishermen have nothing on publishers when it comes to “the one that got away.” But without those stories, how could we stay grounded in an intoxicating world like ours?

  5. dhansen said:

    Ouch. Been there. I once passed on the opportunity to publish a game that sold over 2 million copies. Now I work for the company that didn’t make the same mistake.

    Life can bite at times, but good things come back to good people (that work that rear ends off).

  6. Gwen Hernandez said:

    I’m with you about stepping on the scale right after Thanksgiving!

    I love your blog’s friendly insights on the agenting side of things. It’s helpful for me, as a writer, to remember that being an agent is a tough, often thankless job too. I hope the next client you pick up goes NYT#1. 😉

  7. Stephanie, PQW said:

    A nice, hot cup of tea always makes me feel better. Tell you agent friend my heart goes out to her.

    And, Agent Kristin, I’m sorry about yours, too. But I have to say that it gives me hope that when one agent turns my work away another just might fall in love with it. Thanks

  8. Anonymous said:

    Your friend can be comforted in the knowledge that she knows a best-seller when she sees one. And when it does she will spot it.

  9. Sarah Olutola said:

    Oh my goodness! Yeah, it just goes to show how subjective this business is. You read so many projects a day that you can never really know whether that project you reject will become the next big thing. I guess crap happens, but it’s just kind of the way things are. You just gotta pick up and move on 🙂

    Man…I haven’t heard a Green Day in a long time.

  10. lynnrush said:

    Oh wow, that’s a tough one. A client leaves, then the book sells? Oh boy, that’s just a bummer.

    Hey, can’t win ’em all, right?

  11. Anonymous said:

    I respect agents and the work they do, but so many pretend to be infallible. Glad to see you’re aware that you don’t always get it right and honest enough to admit it.

  12. Liana Brooks said:

    That sounds painful. At least the authors are the decent sort and not rubbing your nose in the fact that you passed.

    And, who knows, maybe things wouldn’t have worked out so well if you did agent those books. From what I understand the agent needs to be 100% behind a project to make it shine. If you passed, you had a reason. And that means you probably wouldn’t have gotten behind the project 100%. And it probably wouldn’t have done as well.

    Be happy for the authors and go find something you love.

  13. Laura said:

    I guest-blogged this week about why I no longer work with literary agents:

    As stated in that piece, and in other pieces that I’ve written about this subject, I don’t preach a philosophy whereby no one should work with an agent. Indeed, I think probably more writers SHOULD have an agent than should not. But after FOUR really sincere, invested efforts with reputable, respected agents, all of which associations turned out almost comically badly, I decided that the agent-author business model doesn’t work well for me. Or, at least, having worked out BADLY for me four times, I don’t have the time, energy, or optimism to give it another go. I’m too busy writing for a living.

    In any case, there are indeed always two sides to a story. When I left my second agent (of four total), she claimed that she had “worked on” my then-current book proposal with me and that I owed her a commission if I ever sold it.

    In fact, despite this claim, we had never discussed the proposal, let alone a marketing strategy for it. ALL that was ever said between us about it was that I was working on a new book proposal in my regular genre, and I would send it to her when it was ready. I am unaware if she even read it, though I wouldn’t think so, since she had it in her possession for only a few days before I fired her. (I fired her because she was prone to screaming tantrums, and I suddenly reached a surfeit one day and decided I couldn’t take any more of this. It was unrelated to the book proposal in question.)

    Nonetheless, once I had fired her, she claimed that she had “worked on” that proposal with me and that she had a moral right to earning a commission on it if I ever sold it.

    I did sell it, in fact, about a year later. No, I did not pay her a commission on the sale. Her claim was total bulls**t. But =she= certainly seemed to believe with all her heart that she had “worked on” that project.